Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Project Sewn Signature Look: McCalls 6754

 Last week I sat out from sewing along with Project Sewn. I was bummed, but I was so sick the weekend before that there was no way I would have finished anything. The looks from the designers and at home entries were so amazing, I absolutely love the dress that won the sew along. Check it out.
              Dress: made by me, Blazer: Hot Mama, Shoes: Walmart, Necklace: Pick Your Plum, Belt: Target

This week's theme is signature style. For me, anything classic and of course, anything involving the color navy, is signature me. For this challenge, I chose to sew up McCall's 6754. I made the dress, with 3/4 sleeves using a thrifted double knit I found ages ago in a fun bright green color. I love the way this dress came together and I think I have something I will be able to wear time and time again for awhile.

This dress came together quickly with the exception of the sleeves. I ended up taking them in several inches and I still wasn't totally happy with the way they look. It is a raglan sleeve and just doesn't have the shape that I am used to. Also, the dress is a little short for me, so instead of folding up the hem, I added a one inch strip of the same fabric and used the method Lisa highlights here. It worked perfectly. I cut a size medium but ended up taking in the top half quite a bit to get a more fitted look. I have also made this as a peplum top before and loved the way that turned out as well.

I like that I can wear this dress on it's own or dress it up a little with the blazer. Speaking of the blazer, I am going to attempt to make my own version of this Hot Mama striped blazer that I love...I just didn't have time to try it before the Project Sewn deadline :)

I hope everyone has a great week and takes a moment to vote on their favorite designer and sew along contestants at Project Sewn this week. -


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Project Sewn Pink Challenge: Ruched Pencil Skirt

Have you checked out the amazing talent over on Project Sewn? The designers are creating wonderful looks and in my dream world I play along with them (which is really just participating in the sew-a-long :)...but a girl can dream, right? Speaking of dreaming, I did have an amazing thing happen during week one. I won the sew-a-long challenge. A huge thank you to all of you who voted, I am so grateful for your support. (You made me feel extra special---thank you, thank you)

Here is a link to my week one look:
Fashion Icon Challenge

This week was a call to create something pink. I wanted to use fabric I already owned which limited it to a small supply of neon pink, a thrifted pink jersey sheet, or some thrifted sheer stretch rose colored fabric that I had. I originally set out to design a maxi dress from the bed sheet but needed more fabric for what I wanted, so plan b (as usual).

 I created a gathered or ruched pencil skirt using the sheer fabric and a tricot lining. (My rosy pink fabric looks a little more red online than in person). I have wanted to add more pencil skirts to my wardrobe and am always inspired by how fabulous Mimi G looks in them. So, I gave it a whirl. She has a wonderful tutorial for creating a pencil skirt here. I drafted my own pattern using a pencil skirt block I made and adding 10 inches in length. 

My skirt has side seams instead of one center back seam like Mimi's tutorial. One thing you want to do when creating this skirt is make sure it is tight...like real tight. I feel a little like a sausage in this skirt, but if it isn't tight, the gathers will look weird. So, roll with it and flaunt it! The gathers hide a lot and help create a flattering look (and some spanx probably could go a long way for me...haha, should have worn them for the photos).

After completing the skirt and inserting the elastic on the waist band, I took 2 pieces of 1/4 inch elastic (one for each side seam) and measured from my waist to where I wanted the skirt to end. I cut the elastic this length and attached it to the side seam by stretching it as I sewed. I pulled the elastic so it covered the entire length of the skirt. When it gathered, the skirt was the length I desired and I left the hem raw. 

Right side of skirt/lining

wrong side of fabric
I then cut the lining out of the same pattern in tricot (but left off the additional length). Attach your lining to the other side of the elastic and you're done! I tacked down my elastic on the side seams to help make sure it will not roll when I wear it. 

And, that's it! It is pretty simple to put together and I do hope to wear it soon...just need to go somewhere more interesting than the grocery store or preschool drop off :) 


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Project Sewn Fashion Icon Challenge

Project Sewn is one of my favorite opportunities to sew along. They always have such wonderful designers and great themes. And...each time I have high goals of what I would like to sew and then seem to run out of time. This challenge was no different. I started with the vision of a fit and flare dress for my brother in law's upcoming wedding and over the course of construction, this changed several times.

I began with picking my fashion icon. Audrey Hepburn. Classic, beautiful, and elegant are just some of the words I would use to describe her style. I originally wanted to create a fit and flare dress with bold striped fabric as my piece, but the first roadblock was the fabric. I searched high and low for what I wanted and never found it, so plan b kicked in, and I purchased some textured lace at Joann fabrics for my dress. It is the Suedesays Fabric- Rosebud Lace in black and I also used a black satin.

Next, I picked a pattern. I went with Simplicity 1873. I was going to create view B with a gathered waist instead of pleated and I got fairly far along in the process. I first carefully cut all my pattern pieces out of the satin. Then placed them underneath my lace, hand basted the lace to the satin, and then cut out the pieces from the lace.

I had everything sewn together with an ambiance lining in the bodice when I decided I needed something different. I didn't love the way it looked on me, my gathering wasn't even and I decided to create something more versatile.

I tore the dress apart and decided to make a peplum top and a gathered waist skirt that could be worn as separates or together to look like a dress, by tucking in the peplum top. First, I created the peplum top, which was pretty simple and quick. I just used what I had left in the lace and satin and cut two strips about 7 inches long and twice the waist measurement. I then gathered the top of each and attached it to the bodice. I used hem lace tape and hand stitched the hem as well as all the lining on the interior. The top fits lovely and I look forward to pairing it with skinny pants and a jacket for another look. (All of which I would have loved to photographed but that whole time thing got in the way!)

The skirt was a different story. It was trouble from the beginning. After trying two gathering methods (a casing and also pre gathering and attaching to elastic), I decided it was just too much fabric. It was heavy, not flattering, and too much bulk for my liking. So...again, back to the drawing board. I settled on a pencil skirt with a vented back that I could wear underneath the peplum top to create the look of a dress. But I can also use the skirt on its own or with other pieces. I self drafted the pencil skirt and got to work. I finished the skirt in just enough time to snap some quick photos, but I plan to touch up some areas. I don't love the way the back is lying and I think I will change the hemline so the stitching will not be noticeable (more hand stitching...bleh).

Overall I am glad I created this outfit. It challenged me a little with insane amounts of seam ripping and rethinking, but in the end I have an outfit to wear to the wedding and will hopefully be able to wear the pieces separately as well. Now...will I have time to sew along in the next challenge???? That is yet to be seen. I have already changed my mind about seven times on what I would like to make, so I seem to be on the same path as usual! 


Linked up at the blogs featured here:
Make It and Love It


Monday, February 3, 2014

Painting Kitchen Cabinets: A How to Guide

Have you ever wanted to update the look of your kitchen or bathroom? I have found the easiest way to make the largest impact is to paint the cabinets. Over the years, I have painted 3 sets of bathroom cabinets and 3 sets of kitchen cabinets and I have learned something new every time. I wanted to share today the steps I used to help achieve a beautiful paint finish on my latest kitchen cabinet project. But before I get to the steps, here are some before and afters to help you see the impact new paint can give a room. (I apologize for the grainy before photos, my computer deleted my original copies).

 When we purchased our house it was full of strong, dark colors. While I actually used to have a red bedroom in a former house, over the years I have become a big fan of neutrals. They are much easier to decorate with if you like to change up your accent colors, styles, accessories, etc. So, the whole first floor was given a fresh coat of tan paint when we purchased it. The color is Cliveden Sandstone, which is a Valspar paint I had mixed by Sherwin Williams. I LOVE this paint color. It has been in my last two houses, my parent's house, and my in law's house. It always looks good. The Super Paint from Sherwin Williams covers so well too, this room was not primed and it covered the red easily. The only thing I don't love this paint next to, is the tile in this house...but that may be changing anyway.

So, here is what I found worked the best in this makeover. First and foremost, if you can find help, take it. My sister in law was living with us at the time and helped from start to finish. The two of us worked for one week on this project, minus time out to help my kids, run to events, etc. It will take A LOT of time and you will need PERSEVERANCE. 

1. Remove the doors and drawer fronts. We did this in sections because I did not have room to paint all the cabinets at once. The good news is, we didn't have to paint the interiors of the cabinets, so we were able to leave everything inside.

2. Clean your kitchen cabinets well and then wipe down all the surfaces with a liquid deglosser or sand them. We chose the liquid deglosser for less work, less time, and way less mess. It worked so well and is the way I will always do cabinets in the future. I originally decided on this technique after watching the pros on This Old House suggest it.

3. Fill any holes and imperfections with wood filler and sand. These were knotty wood cabinets and there were TONS of holes. In addition, these cabinets were beat up on the inside. Lots of deep scratches from the pull outs and such. This step took a lot of time, but made a huge difference. Make sure your wood filler is fully dried and sanded smooth before continuing.

4. Prime the cabinets and base. I use the same primer on all my projects and have loved it every time. Zinsser Cover Stain. It is oil based, so it will stink and I hate the cleanup, but it is worth it. We used foam disposable brushes, rollers and disposable dip trays, so it wasn't horrible. Put on THIN coat of primer and do your best to avoid brush strokes. This is key to a smooth final finish. If you get any drips or brush marks, make sure you sand them down. I used a "in between coats" sand paper after the primer to knock down any marks. Then thoroughly vacuum and wipe down the cabinets after you sand.

5. It's PAINT time. The quality and type of paint you chose will make a huge difference. I prefer Sherwin Williams over all other paints because I have had the most success with it. Plus, they are always so helpful when making paint decisions. I chose the Pro Classic Interior Latex in Alabaster White. It helps to achieve the brush free look you are after and it covers well. I spoke to them about whether or not I needed a final coat of varnish or poly for protection and they said no, not with this paint. I took their advice, and the paint is holding up great.

Tips for applying paint-
**Buy brushes and rollers made for the job. I prefer a Purdy angled brush to cut in and a small roller made for cabinet painting. Some people are able to achieve the brush free look with brushes only, but I am not one of them. I have tried, without success, so I use the easier method of a roller and have been very pleased. Use thin coats and put it on slowly to avoid bubbles. Sand in between coats and cover it well. I used three thin coats of paint on my cabinets and feel the coverage was perfect.

**Keep your paint supplies ready to go with plastic wrap. You can wrap your brushes and rollers tightly with plastic wrap in between painting to keep them from drying out as well as push it down into the paint in the paint tray. The paint tray will get a tad gloppy with drying so put a layer of plastic down over the bumpy part when you start painting again to avoid big clumps in your paint.

6. After three thin coats of paint (sanding and wiping/vacumming well in between coats), let your paint dry as long as you can. (The longer it cures, the better it will hold up). But, if your impatient like me, you can put them back up in a day or two.

7. Chose hardware and hang. My husband did the hanging to make sure all the hardware was level. This is his domain and he is very good at it, so I stay far away :) The hardware I was provided is from D. Lawless Hardware. I would highly recommend this company. They have wonderful prices and they ship it quickly. I chose the Stainless Steel Bar and a Satin Nickel Cup Pull. Their staff also helped me make my selections. You can see how I used some of their other hardware on my dining buffet makeover HERE.

Here are some more before and afters:

We are currently in the process of trimming out the island with bead board so ignore the gaps :) That project will be coming to the blog soon. I also am trying to decide on a backsplash. I originally wanted bead board but now wonder if it will be too much white...what do you think? Do I leave it tiled or change it to something else? Hopefully in time I will able to bring in some more projects in here and bring a little life to this kitchen, but in the meantime we are enjoying our new crisp white cabinets.